Sitting in her favorite nook in the silent library, Hermione pondered the course of her life. Now in her fifth year, she wondered if there were not more to magic than she had thus far experienced. It was not that she was ungrateful for her education, just that the voice in the back of her head whispered incessantly. She remembered sitting in her parent’s living room when Minerva McGonagall came to explain that Hermione was a witch and had the opportunity to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In those precious moments she had hoped that she would finally find the place where she fit and would be finally understood.
The muggle schools she attended as a small child were isolating experiences. Though no one had ever been so cruel as to directly point out that she didn’t fit in with the rest of the children, Hermione had never doubted that she was simply different. So long as she could remember, in addition to occasionally causing unexplainable things to happen unintentionally from time to time, her dreams had been filled with the sounds of crashing waves, screams of terror and the sort of chill that sunk into the depths of your soul. Once she had asked a classmate if they too had such experiences while asleep. Instead of the comforting understanding the young girl had hoped for, she was instead pulled out of class by an old man she later learned was the school psychologist. He spent an hour asking innocuous questions about Hermione’s life. He’d been building to the next question her young mind realized. “Hermione, tell me, do you have many nightmares?” he asked in a falsely sweet tone. Without even a moments pause she replied, “ No, I’ve never dreamt much.” At the time the young girl couldn’t have said why she lied when the man asked her about her dream world. Eventually the emotionless but straightforward answers convinced the doctor that the young girl was entirely normal for her age.
As she walked back to her classroom, Hermione made a promise to herself that she would keep her dreams and every other part of herself a secret from those around her. She mused, now on the threshold of adulthood, that after that day she’d never really trusted another person. How different her life might have been had her classmate shown her compassion instead of fear. Perhaps she would be wearing Gryffindor red and gold instead of the blue and bronze of Ravenclaw. Would she have made friends with the second youngest Weasley and his famous friend Harry Potter? Would she have gone through the last four years having dangerous adventures at their sides?
She knew such lines of questioning led no where productive. She was never meant to be the hero of any story. She’d instead spent the years of her Hogwarts education learning anything and everything that she could. In her first year, she briefly had the fantasy that she could be the brightest witch in the school. It was not a question of her capabilities, but after her overly high achievement of her first term, the harassment from the Slytherins over her blood status and the ire of the Gryffindors as she out performed their star student, it was simply too much. Like in her muggle school, she learned that year that she needed to keep her head down to protect herself and her secrets. And so she began to intentionally miss just enough questions to keep herself from claiming the top academic spot. She spent every free moment she could spare in the library studying and learning beyond her years. Most recently she had mastered wordless and wandless magic. She chose the topic at random to be her obsession for the moment, simply for the challenge of it. At first it had been overwhelmingly frustrating, but her breakthrough had come in the chilling month of October. The nightmares that had been a nightly experience her entire life, abruptly came to an end and Hermione found herself feeling more powerful than ever before.
In her obsession over learning everything she could about her new skill, she entirely missed the events of the last week. On her way back to her room, she glanced at the Daily Prophet from earlier in the week. How could she have missed that a mass breakout had taken place? But it was the picture on the front of the paper that momentarily captured her attention. It was cold and depressing. Giving it little further thought, she trekked up to her room. She changed out of her school clothes and into her pajamas magically without her wand.
Hermione had been looking forward to the trip to Hogsmeade all week. Naturally, it wasn’t for the same reasons as all of the other students around her. She wasn’t longing to go and drink butterbeer or go to the joke shops with her mates. No. Hermione was intent on going to Scrivenshaft's Quill and Bookshop in search of books not found in the Hogwarts library. Not to mention she was in desperate need of parchment and new quills.
In the chill of the October air and the new morning light, Hermione pulled on a tight pair of jeans, a dark blue sweater, and her warm black coat. Before leaving her room, she tucked her wand into the interior pocket of her coat and grabbed her favorite bag with an extension charm on it. Once in the Great Hall, she sat at the very end of the Ravenclaw table, apart from the other students, reading through the only book she could find on ancient magic in the unrestricted section of the library. She could already feel herself being drawn into the topic, and she knew that this would be the subject of her focus in her book shopping.
Finally, Hermione and the other students were allowed to begin the walk into Hogsmeade. As soon as they were just outside the castle, Hermione slipped her hand into her bag, pulling out her iPod and headphones. Over the years, she had put up with enough abuse over being muggle born that she learned to embrace certain parts of muggle technology, even while at school. If she was to be tortured by her peers, at least she would allow herself the comfort of the world she grew up in.
In the isolation created by her headphones, she made her way quickly through the crowd of students towards the bookstore. She slipped in the door quietly, drawing no attention of the staff or other patrons. She made her way to the back of the store into the section containing books on ancient magic. Absorbed in the steady flow of music and the joy of exploring the titles in front of her, she didn’t notice the presences of the witch who had invaded the area in the back of the store. On the very top shelf, Hermione found a title that she simply couldn’t resist. The book was at least a meter out of reach for the young witch. Without giving a thought to the idea that she might not be alone, she silently and wandlessly summoned the book to her waiting hands. She flipped quickly through the pages, pleased with herself. She spun quickly to walk back to the front of the store where her favorite variety of parchment and quills were kept.
Much to her surprise, the abrupt motion nearly caused her to run headfirst into the other witch. In a moment of panic, Hermione quickly magicked her headphones away and into her purse while briefly taking in the appearance of the other witch. The older woman in front of her wore a deep green gown and expensive looking robes. The darkness of the attire highlighted the bright golden hair and sparkling blue eyes. As a muggle born witch, Hermione had certainly never been introduced to anyone of her stature, but there was no mistaking who stood in front of her. Narcissa Malfoy was clearly assessing the young witch. If she was surprised at the identity of the girl, the only indication would have been the slight raising of her eyebrow at the girl as Hermione raced past her.
Narcissa couldn’t quite place her finger on what drew her to Hogsmeade that day. It was not her first choice for shopping, as London had greater selection. In part, she had hoped to catch a glimpse of her son Draco. There had been so much darkness and pressure in their lives recently, that she just wanted to see the child that made everyday of her life worth the struggle. She knew the return of the Dark Lord weighed heavily on her son, as expectations of his involvement in the coming war were high. Yet, Narcissa longed to see that in these small moments that Draco might be able to find some normalcy and a bit of friendship among his peers. She watched him walk into the joke shop with Crabbe and Goyle, his closest friends. He had largely closed himself off from the rest of the world, so it relieved her heart to see him walking happily with his childhood friends. From the shadows she slipped into the bookstore, knowing the young men would spend at least an hour deciding which prank toys to purchase.
She had never had cause to venture to the back of the bookstore, but with the escape of her oldest sister from Azkaban earlier in the week, she knew that she needed to expand her knowledge of the ancient magics. It seemed that after all of the tragedy her family suffered in the first magical war, perhaps the prophecy would still come true. Perhaps her family would, in the end, find their happiness and freedom from the darkness of the past two decades. To this end, the prophecy would be key and Narcissa knew that she must be prepared for the days to come.
As she stepped into the back section of the store, she realized the young witch already occupying the space was entirely unaware of her presence. She was even more shocked as she watched the girl summon a book off the top shelf to herself without so much as a word or movement. In stunned silence she watched as the girl spun and made eye contact, catching herself only a moment before the two would have collided. She noted the panic on the young woman’s face as she passed. The girl was clearly a prodigy and yet, Narcissa had never seen nor heard her name spoken.
She hadn’t planned on crashing Draco’s day of freedom in Hogsmeade, but she needed to know the name of the talented witch if not everything about her history. Without so much as touching a single book, Narcissa left the store behind and entered the joke store to find her son and his friends, hoping bribery of food and sweets would be enough to make up for the presence of a parent. The words of the prophecy that would save the eldest Black sister and change the course of the coming war echoed in Narcissa’s head.
One shall be born to end the suffering of the House of Black. She will come secreted into the world, fated to share in the hardships of the eldest. She will be the brightest of her age, destined to form the most powerful partnership ever known. Her loyalty and love will determine the course of the world… Neither the light nor dark will know her name … her blood, though pure, confused for mud.